The daughter of a Northland kuia who was reportedly kicked out of the Ngapuhi Festival's kaumatua and kuia tent by Sonny Tau says the incident "belittled" her mother and a public apology is needed.
Papatuanuku Nahi, daughter of 70-year-old Te Tomo Nahi, said her mother had been attending the biennial iwi festival for as long as she could remember but claimed last Saturday their day was ruined when Mr Tau, former chairman of the Ngapuhi Runanga, allegedly booted Te Tomo out of the kaumatua and kuia tent because of the rolled up tino rangatiratanga flag she had.
The Advocate tried to contact Mr Tau to comment on the claims but he could not be reached and did not return calls.
"We were really looking forward to it. We went to the designated parking area and it's a bit of a way from there to the festival. Mum has a heart condition and so when we got there we were relieved to see there was a kaumatua and kuia tent. I said to her 'go sit there, Mum, and catch your breath'," Ms Nahi said.
Ms Nahi popped off to have a look around and when she returned she could not see her mother in the tent, eventually finding her trying to hide from the sun.
"I asked her what she was doing and she said Sonny had kicked her out. She went to make herself a cuppa and had left the flag on the table and she said he told her 'get out of here with that thing'. She thought he was joking so started laughing and he said he was serious. She tried to pull him over to talk about it but he didn't want to talk," Ms Nahi said.
Ms Nahi said she was "flabbergasted" by the incident and so did not approach Mr Tau on the day.
"We're just really upset and we couldn't believe it. There were no entry conditions (to the tent), she just wanted to catch her breath. Later on it set in and I felt so irate. He could have talked to her politely or acknowledged her, but he just dismissed her."
Ms Nahi said her mother felt "belittled" by the incident and now the family are seeking a public apology. She said the chairwoman of Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi, Carol Dodd, had visited her mother to talk about the incident and offer reasons why it may have happened.
"We assume [Mr Tau] may have mistaken it for a political party flag," Ms Nahi said.
Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi spokesman Tio Taiaki confirmed the incident had been discussed privately with Te Tomo and out of respect for her privacy, no further comment would be made.